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Ola tries to keep focus as playoff nears

By Derrick Mahone

dmahone@news-daily.com

For the last six games, Ola coach Ryan Parejko preached to his team the importance of not overlooking any opponent on the schedule.

The Mustangs were just coming off a 6-5 heart-wrenching loss to Region 4-AAAA rival, which cost them the No. 2 ranking in the state.

More importantly, the loss give Alcovy the lead in the region standings.

Knowing that his team would be thinking about the rematch, Parejko continued to emphasis the "one game" at a time approach to his team.

It seemed to have worked.

Ola kept its focus by outscoring its opponents 62-9 during a five-game stretch.

The Mustangs passed the ultimate test on Monday with a 6-1 win over second-ranked Alcovy.

"That was huge," said Darryl Dickey, Ola's winning pitcher in the Alcovy game.

Heading into their last four region games, Ola and Alcovy both own an 12-1 record in league games. If both teams win out on their remaining games, Ola would get the region top seed in the upcoming playoffs, because its win total was greater than Alcovy's in the head-to-head match-up.

But Parejko is not ready to look down the line at the playoffs. He will continue to preach his "one game at a time" philosophy.

It is that thinking, which help guide the Mustangs through the later part of the season.

"There is still a lot of season left," Parejko said. "You can't look too far ahead. It is three more games on our schedule. I will continue to do what I can do to keep the team focused."

Ola is idle until Friday when it host Mount Zion, a team it beat 10-0 in five innings, four days after its loss to Alcovy on March 29.

The Mustangs only other loss was 7-4 in a non-region game against Northgate to start the season.

A big challenge will face the Mustangs next week when they play four games in five days, including non-region games against Pike County and Luella to end the season.

"We just need to keep our heads on straight," Ola senior designated hitter and closer Bobby Woodall said. "We just have to keep the same mentality that we have had all season in

not overlooking anyone. We have to play the same whether we are playing a college or major league team or another high school team."

The state playoffs begin May 7, with Ola guaranteed to host the first two rounds if it finishes as the region's top seed.

Teams from Region 4-AAAA will be matched up against schools from Region 1 in the first round of the postseason.